In pursuit of the unknown : 17 equations that changed the world
 Author/Creator
 Stewart, Ian, 1945
 Language
 English.
 Publication
 New York : Basic Books, 2013.
 Physical description
 x, 342 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Access
Available online

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QA21 .S834 2013

Unknown
QA21 .S834 2013
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Contents/Summary
 Bibliography
 Includes bibliographical references (p. [321]330) and index.
 Contents

 Why equations?
 The squaw on the hippopotamus: Pythagoras's theorem
 Shortening the proceedings: logarithms
 Ghosts of departed quantities: calculus
 The system of the world: Newton's law of gravity
 Portent of the ideal world: the square root of minus one
 Much ado about knotting: Euler's formula for polyhedra
 Patterns of chance: normal distribution
 Good vibrations: wave equation
 Ripples and blips: Fourier transform
 The ascent of humanity: NavierStokes equation
 Waves in the ether: Maxwell's equations
 Law and disorder: second law of thermodynamics
 One thing is absolute: relativity
 Quantum weirdness: Schrödinger's equation
 Codes, communications, and computers: information theory
 The imbalance of nature: chaos theory
 The Midas formula: BlackScholes equation
 Where next?
 Summary
 In In Pursuit of the Unknown, celebrated mathematician Ian Stewart uses a handful of mathematical equations to explore the vitally important connections between math and human progress. We often overlook the historical link between mathematics and technological advances, says Stewartbut this connection is integral to any complete understanding of human history. Equations are modeled on the patterns we find in the world around us, says Stewart, and it is through equations that we are able to make sense of, and in turn influence, our world. Stewart locates the origins of each equation he presentsfrom Pythagoras's Theorem to Newton's Law of Gravity to Einstein's Theory of Relativitywithin a particular historical moment, elucidating the development of mathematical and philosophical thought necessary for each equation's discovery. None of these equations emerged in a vacuum, Stewart shows; each drew, in some way, on past equations and the thinking of the day. In turn, all of these equations paved the way for major developments in mathematics, science, philosophy, and technology. Without logarithms (invented in the early 17th century by John Napier and improved by Henry Briggs), scientists would not have been able to calculate the movement of the planets, and mathematicians would not have been able to develop fractal geometry. The Wave Equation is one of the most important equations in physics, and is crucial for engineers studying the vibrations in vehicles and the response of buildings to earthquakes. And the equation at the heart of Information Theory, devised by Claude Shannon, is the basis of digital communication today. An approachable and informative guide to the equations upon which nearly every aspect of scientific and mathematical understanding depends, In Pursuit of the Unknown is also a reminder that equations have profoundly influenced our thinking and continue to make possible many of the advances that we take for granted.
Bibliographic information
 Publication date
 2013
 Responsibility
 Ian Stewart.
 Title Variation
 17 equations that changed the world
 ISBN
 9780465085989
 0465085989
 9780465029730
 0465029736